Will SEO Die?
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For someone who has been following the SEO industry quite closely, I often encounter this question – ‘What next in SEO?’. While I do not have a crystal ball to look and give an answer but by the virtue of knowing few great minds and looking at how Google is changing the dynamics of search, it’s not difficult to see that the traditional way of doing SEO is on a downward spiral.
Google, since the time we have known, has been synonymous with web search. As of Apr’16, Google still leads its competitors by a huge way garnering almost 90% market share. The success has been defined by its ability to provide search results that are relevant and high quality. In order to do this and maintain it, Google keeps on enhancing its algorithm and has set some standard guidelines for content creators.
But more often than not, we would see some Black Hat SEO techniques creeping up and someone manipulating those guidelines. Google though is unforgiving on it’s part and quite frequently comes out with algorithm updates that would put end to such techniques. Along with that, it also releases updates that would affect any content strategy thus affecting search.
So does that mean SEO will die?
There are two ways to answer it but before I do that, let us see what Google has been up to in last couple of years.
Panda and Penguin Updates
Over last few years, you would have heard many site owner complaining about losing their rankings overnight or being hit by either Panda or Penguin updates.
The last Panda update came way back in 2013 and that was one way Google emphasized on putting out quality content. Panda update looked at content that was overly optimized, stuffed with keywords which made no sense and ensured that those pages lost ranking.
Similarly, the Penguin update looked at excessive link building along with few other parameters that were not in alignment with Google Webmaster Guidelines and penalized those pages.
These updates ensured that content that appears on Google search is almost free of spam and of high quality.
The Hummingbird Update
Google released the Hummingbird update little before its 15th Anniversary. This update was more aligned to show how search results look and not how to rank. With this update, Google was making early inroads into the world of Artifical Intelligence (AI).
With Hummingbird update Google started looking at how the search behavior are changing and how many of us are using larger phrases to search rather than just putting few keywords. It also started to look at the context of the search thus understanding what you have searched before the current one and bringing relevancy to results.
The latest in series of Google updates and something that is making to a lot of discussions is the RankBrain update. Similar to Hummingbird update, RankBrain is still looking only at the queries you make. In addition to context, the current update also looks at place, time and other parameters to ensure you get relevant results.
The Advent of Voice Search
Continuing the story, with all these updates, Google was in essence building the platform to understand the conversation form of querying that would happen via devices. We had this discussion on #SEOTalk Twitter Chat about Voice SEO recently and according to recent reports, nearly 55% of teens use voice search every day.
So we go back to our original question – Will SEO Die?
Part 1 – If you have been doing SEO the traditional way, which is stuffing keywords, linking to pages, updating directories and trying to manipulate Google’s search algorithm, definitely that is not going to work any longer. So if you belong to that group, yes SEO will die.
Part 2 – Now if you have not been part of the earlier group but have graduated to a group that aligns with Google strategy, which is, provide quality content, writing for reader rather than search engine, SEO is still up and running. But in order to stay up on the SERP, you have to work a lot harder. The content has to have location information as well as provide answer to 5W’s – Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.
Are you ready to work harder and make search a better experience?
Author Bio –
Malhar Barai is Head – Marketing (HiTech Vertical) at Tech Mahindra. Previously he worked as Digital Marketing Strategist at Tech Mahindra and is a Digital Marketing Evangelist. A techie turned marketer, Malhar speaks and writes about various facets of Digital Marketing including SEO, Content Marketing, Campaign Planning, etc
Malhar is co-host & co-founder of India’s longest running Twitter Chat of #SEOTalk Twitter Chat and India’s first blab (live streaming platform) based Blab2Learn show.
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